Microsoft continues to resist compliance with binding anti-trust rulings in both the US and the EU. In the latest development, yesterday the US Federal District Court in Washington heard evidence confirming that after four years Microsoft has still not yet fully complied with its legal obligations under its 2003 Consent Decree with the US Department of Justice and is introducing new problems. That Decree is now set to expire in November, with Microsoft’s overwhelming dominance unaffected.
Brussels – 27 June 2007 – “This lack of result is sadly familiar to EU anti-trust authorities, where Microsoft likewise has not complied with the European Commission’s March 2004 Decision condemning it for abuses of its dominant position,” said ECIS Chairman Simon Awde commenting on the reports of the US hearing. “Their strategy is clearly the same on both sides of the Atlantic: delay compliance and run out the clock on the original orders while Vista and Longhorn take over the market.”
“Here in Europe we can only hope that a decisive ruling by the EU Court of First Instance on Microsoft’s appeal of the European Commission’s 2004 Decision, now expected by mid-September, will put an end to nearly three and a half years of similar studied delays,” Awde said.
The US court hearing also heard about how Microsoft had violated its 2003 Consent Decree by unfairly impeding access to rival desktop search engines by bundling its own previously separate desktop search product into Vista. This undermines users’ access to other search engines. The Court heard that just days before the hearing, Microsoft had finally agreed to take some steps to address these concerns.
“Only after direct pressure from US regulators, and just days before yesterday’s hearing, did Microsoft agree to do something,” Awde pointed out. “And even now the terms of the solution remain unclear, and whether it has any use will depend – as usual – on Microsoft’s implementation.”
“Once again we see that Microsoft reacts only under direct pressure from public authorities, and even then in a manner that prolongs the compliance process,” Awde concluded.